Changing the Story: The Prisoner Caste

A billion miles beyond Pluto and nearly four billion miles away from Earth, a NASA spacecraft sent back images of a space object scientists dubbed Ultima Thule. The tiny object is actually two spheres mingled together in space. Ultima Thule is an entity farther from Earth than any other ever photographed.

At first sighting NASA scientists described Ultima Thule as a “bowling pin.” A day later, with better pictures, they redefined it as more like “a snowman.” In truth, its small size and the vast distance involved, make Ultima Thule difficult to explain.

The Prisoner Caste among us is much the same. Smaller than the general population and distant from us the Prisoner Caste remains and enigma to most of us.

We tend to keep a great distance between ourselves and the Prisoner Caste, our own Ultima Thule. They are easy enough to avoid for most of us. Barely defended, locked away for decades, punished but not disciplined,  the vast majority of the Prisoner Caste have two things in common. Most do not have two functioning parents when they are young. Most of them are poor.

I have used this space to plead with mothers to advocate for their sons for one primary reason. That is, so many do not seem to have a meaningful father presence in their lives anywhere. There are numerous exceptions to this rule, just as there are myriad examples of affluent persons who go to jail. A nation like ours, so intent on incarcerating so many, will naturally produce examples to skew the perception. I argue for the two parent family, a man and a woman, together for a life time.

Let us hold to this position, to wit, a fellow with two functioning parents, a man and a woman, present in his life and operating in wholesome fashion, is less likely to spend his life in jail. I admit, many manage to confound what their parents want. Rebellion is as natural to a teenager as flight to a sparrow. I will still take the two parent family and go against the field.

And most of the Prisoner Caste I have met do not have two parents together in their background.

I want to use this blog space to describe the Prisoner Caste among us. We do not have the luxury to observe them from 4 billion miles away. The 750 released each weeks by the Texas prison system do not include those released from county jails or Federal prisons. We cannot afford to lock them away forever; the law will not and should not allow us simply to lock human beings away and forget them. All those who come out will be someone’s neighbor.

Please help us help the Prisoner Caste. Pray for our work with men and women coming out of incarceration. Help us help them live decent, productive lives. All of us will benefit from this work.

 

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